Monday, August 20, 2007

Sibling Assignment #32: Limping Toward Graduation

Silver Valley Girl assigned this week's piece: what accomplishment or achievement do we most remember from high school? InlandEmpireGirl's post is here and Silver Valley Girl's is here.

Frank, an aggressive football player, was an opponent in a pick-up game of basketball at our end of the year get together for K-Club, a club for athletes who were lettermen. I was slowly dribbling upcourt and he made a mad dash to steal my dribble.

Those who saw what happened said it looked like I had a magnet in my thigh and that Frank's head was steel. He ran nearly full speed, head first, into my thigh.

I ended my senior year in high school with a pronounced limp while my injury healed.

Things get vague after this, but I'll tell the story this way. The main facts are true, but I can't remember their order at all.

Kellogg High School seniors had a handful of opportunities to win awards: the McKinley Award went to a musician for excellence; athletes were presented awards in the names of Tommy Brainard and Frank Reasoner; an award was presented to the outstanding senior: I think this might have been the Glen Exum award and I think it was first awarded in 1972, the year I graduated. (If you are reading this and have the facts straighter than I do, please correct me.)

I didn't win any of these awards.

The year before I had been soundly thumped when I ran for student body president.

When I arrived home from a late in my senior year evening event and I knew I hadn't won any awards, I went on a long walk.

Make that a long limp. I felt like Chester from "Gunsmoke".

The limp around town began in self-pity. Earlier, in junior high, I had been student body president and our basketball team's most valuable player and I had expected to continue in this award-winning way.

For much of the limp, past the YMCA, Gary's Drug, Sass's Jewelry, Dick and Floyd's, past the Masonic Hall, I berated myself for having failed.

I felt sorry for myself for not winning these awards.

On the way back home, as I passed Teeters' Field, the swimming pool parking lot, the Ford Motors lot, walked under the freeway, and walked past my former employer, Stein Brothers IGA, I stopped feeling self-pity.

I didn't feel self-acceptance, exactly.

I did realize that I wasn't a top dog.

I could play basketball, but I wasn't the best player.

I could sing, but I wasn't the best singer.

I could play the baritone horn, but I wasn't the best.

I could do some acting, but I wasn't the best actor and would never play a leading role.

I was a good student, but I would never be the best.

I could play baseball, but I was not the best outfielder or hitter.

I could strip zinc, but a lot of guys were faster, more efficient, and made more money than I did.

I limped on home, not really knowing what to do with this realization. I can't say I felt great relief when I got home.

I can't say that the pieces of my eighteen-year-old life suddenly fell together.

I can't say this limp around town turned my life around.

I can say, though, that I started to gain some perspective about who I was and what my place in the world was.

That was, for me, as new born and underdeveloped as this perspective was, an achievement I'll never forget.

It was my best high school accomplishment as I limped toward graduation.


Katrina said...

That realization, costly as it is, truly is an accomplishment. It takes grace to accept it, and to give our best to life anyway. I admire it. :)

Great job with the assignment, RP. You always seem to look beneath the surface at the deeper meanings.

Hope said...

Somehow I imagined, that as we grow older, we redefine achievement and greatness and throw away the old measuring stick in favor of prospective on what is really important in life.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

It was a heart-wrenching read for me. I, too, was somebody in Jr. High, but no one special in High School. I didn't win any awards - in Jr. High, because I didn't care, in High School because I didn't try. (I didn't even know what the awards/scholarships were in High School until we had the awards ceremony. - I didn't even know how to get an award, unless it was for academic achievement. I learned this by missing the Science award in Jr. High by a couple of points, and being greatly chastised by my Science teacher after the fact.)

I may have obtained some scholarships, had I applied. You see, my dad wouldn't fill out the forms. He said it wasn't anyone's business how much money he made. So I worked my way through. Guess it build character, . .

So much for old feelings. I am glad for the way my life is now. If I had had it all when I was young, I may have also been less tolerant of those who struggle.